The Handpan Art of SoHung

While traditionally Steel Tongue Drum have made up the flashier looking members of the melodic steel UFO family, with the outward beauty of Handpan being a little more subtle.  As makers from around the world have begun to experiment with, and tweak almost every other aspect of the instrument type, visual appeal too, is a quality that has not been forgotten entirely.  So that whereas the first generation of Hang were fairly simple looking creatures, increasingly the instruments of some makers, are becoming as pleasing to the eyes, as they are to the ears.

That said, It is likely that preference in terms of looks will vary considerably person-to-person, but if you’re a fan of the more highly ornate looking creations, such as the instruments of Vadjraghanta - you might also find pleasing the recent Handpan-art of Russian-makers, SoHung.  

Historically, the painting of Handpan has been discouraged among the Handpan community, due to a belief that paint restricts the vibrations of the Handpan, and dulls the sound.  However when questioned over at Facebook as to how these Handpan are decorated,the answer came that: “This special drawings with inks and polish that allows us to use high temperatures if tuning is needed and also it prevents the pan from scratches and rust.”

For more information and to follow the SoHung Art experiment you can join their Facebook group. Or find them at YouTube.

At-TaK of the UFOs - The Handpan and the Rise of the TaK

When we first discovered the Hang a whiles back now, it seemed to be an instrument in a fairly concrete state of form - eight tone-fields (notes) circling a central ding.  Since then though have come the inpex, booty taps, grace notes, and a number of other maker-explorations big and small.  And recently, one thing we’re seeing more and more of, is the “TaK”. A subtle, yet distinctive addition to the sounds of these UFO-shaped steel instruments.

While we weren't entirely sure which maker first employed the TaK, as we noticed them coming into use around the same time by both Swiss-makers Echo Sound Sculptures, and Italian-makers Vision Instruments.  According to Handpan musician, Adrian Portia, in reference to the mutant-esque Handpan “LoDu” instruments of ESS (see video below): “On my signature model i have introduced what i call TaKs. The TaK is a tuned high pitch note/tone that's placed in designated areas around the surface, designed by me and produced by EchoSoundSculpture they add a new percussive element for the player on this very cool and unique sounding instrument.”...

While in definition the TaK sounds to be similar to the "grace notes" employed by Pantheon Steel on some of their Halo instruments.  While grace-notes are essentially just another tone field squeezed in above-and-between, TaK (just about visible in the center in the video below) are more percussive in tone and nature.  Fairly un-pronounced in appearance, but bringing yet another possible dimension to the sounds of the Handpan, TaK, look to be here to stay...

The Dalai Lama Plays the Handpan

While the title of this post might be a little misleading, with his Holiness the Dalai Lama employing little more than a few cursory taps, and while the video itself (below) might be of a pretty poor quality, we’re sharing it anyway.  Because as far as we’re concerned, a man of the Dalai Lama’s stature being introduced to the Handpan, particularly while during a visit to the city of Bern, the birthplace of the PANArt Hang (and the Handpan instrument by default), is an event of note, for this world of UFO-shaped singing-steel that we celebrate here at HPM...

And as it happens, while this may well be the Dalai Lama’s first introduction to a bona-fide Handpan, it is not his first meeting with a member of the melodic-UFO family.  When back in 2012 the Dalai Lama got to try his hand at playing the Steel Tongue Drum...

As a point of note, over at Facebook - HangBlog author Micheal Paschko has stated that despite the Handpan in question being presented to his Holiness the Dalai Lama as being a Bern made Hang, in the very birthplace of the instrument, “I have discussed this with Felix (one of the Hang-makers)  and Frank (admin of the now defunct Hang-forum) and we are sure: This is not a Hang. Our best guess is: A BElls from Bellart. But I'm not completely sure. Perhaps a handpan from another maker.”.  Which is a little strange.  But regardless of the make, HDL seemed to be visibly impressed with the Handpan, just as he was with the Steel Tongue Drum before it, and so for that, we’re chalking him up as yet another fan of the instrument-type, and (however briefly) member of the Handpan-playing community.  

You can read more about the Dalai Lama’s visit to Bern, and his meeting with the Handpan (and watch a much better quality video that we are unable to embed here) over at

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